September 1, 2012 -- The United States sent three riders into the Main Arena Saturday with scores proving doubly important as they would help determine Team standings and crown the first Individual medalists of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Rebecca Hart and Dale Dedrick competed in Grade II competition producing valiant efforts on a morning that saw two horses dismissed from competition for more than 20 seconds of resistance. Jonathan Wentz was the lone U.S. representative in the afternoon Grade 1b session.
Grade 1b Individual Test
Wentz (Richardson, Texas) and Kai Handt's NTEC Richter Scale drew the second slot in the order and earned a score of 70.348% from the Ground Jury of Kjell Myhre, Sarah Rodger, Gudrun Hofinga, Freddy Leyman and Anne Prain. Wentz and the entire American team would need to wait another hour to see if the U.S. medal drought in London could be cured. However the second to last rider of the day Pepo Puch would just nudge Wentz off the podium as the Southern Methodist University student finished a credible fourth.
Claiming the gold medal was Australia's Joann Formosa with Worldwide PB on a score of 75.826%. Lee Pearson and Gentleman earned the Silver medal with a score of 75.391% with Puch and Fine Feeling earning 75.043% for bronze.
Following Thursday's Team Test, Wentz knew he would need to increase the tempo and improve his walk tour on the 18-year-Shire cross gelding NTEC Richter Scale. He was able to do both but suffered slightly in the trot work for pushing the pace just farther than what was needed.
"[Thursday] we got hit for being too conservative but today we went too much the other way and hit too hard on the accelerator and got way too wobbly in the trot work," said Wentz. "The walk work finally scored the way we were hoping but the trot work hurt us. There's way more to come."
Wentz was pleased to have movements that have proven difficult for the pair in the past be amongst the highlights in today's Individual Test.
"The walk work, the turn on the haunches and the halt," said Wentz listing Saturday's highlights. "I moved up from a six [Thursday] to a 7 today which is what we needed it's hard to start with a 65 and move up to a 70."
Grade II Individual Test
Hart (Unionville, Pa.) and Lord Ludger produced an accurate test to score 68.286% to finish in eleventh place in the Grade II Individual Test. Hart, who is appearing in her second Paralympic Games , had hoped for a better a result but did not have an ideal start when the Oldenburg gelding lost his focus as he was circling the ring.
"I lost his focus a bit when we were doing our tour and I was able to get him back and refocus on me," said Hart "I was happy that I was able to take him back from the brink."
Ever the competitor, Hart will use her wealth of experience as she prepares for Monday's Freestyle.
"I need a little more in the walk which was the comment the other day which we tried to remedy but we just weren't able to get there, so that was a little disappointing," said the five-time National Champion. "But we're just going to try again and work on it tomorrow and go for it in the Freestyle."
In the Individual Test, Dedrick had a marked improvement over her Team Test with her own Bonifatius. The 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding displayed more impulsion and appeared to be much more on the aids than he had been on Thursday.
"It was a much more forward and obedient test... I was much more prepared for it today, I knew what he was going to pull," said the former Orthopedic Surgeon. "I was much more ready to attack the minute he tried that."
They finished in 17th place.
Great Britain's Natasha Baker and Cabral claimed the Gold medal with a score of 76.857%, narrowly edging Britta Napel and Aquilina 3 of Germany who scored 76.048% for silver. Germany also clinched the Bronze medal with Angelika Trabert and Ariva-Avanti scoring 76%.
All three U.S. riders will complete Freestyles in their respective grade Monday.
The final rider from the U.S. Donna Ponessa (New Windsor, N.Y.) will complete her Grade 1a Individual Test Saturday afternoon. Following the completion of tomorrow's Grade IV, III and 1b Individual Tests team medals will be awarded in addition to Individual medals in the three grades.